PPM Hockey Tactics: The Big Secret That Wasn’t

We’re 6 games from the end of season 4, and one thing still seems to confuse people; tactics. You would think that after more than 140 league matches, multiple NC and Tourny matches and countless friendlies, the issue of tactics would be more transparent.

PPM  TacticsIt actually is! It’s within the people who play the game, around the community and in particular, on the PPM forums. Many managers have discovered the “Circle Of Countertactics” by simply asking. The most ironic thing though, is that there is no big secret to the choosing the right tactics. The information isn’t some super-secret scroll hidden away in a secret vault protected by Furies. It’s not even a semi-secret scribble on a piece of paper hidden under some managers desk. Heck, it’s not a secret at all. Many will try and keep this information hidden, but the fact of the matter is, after 4 seasons of PPM and numerous blogs and forum posts, it’s there for the public to see.

Most managers are well aware that Defense is the best tactic to defeat Offensive. That is logical, is it not? Many managers are also aware that to defeat someone using the Normal tactic you are best to use the “Breaking Up” tactic. This leaves just Defensive, CounterAttack, Active Forecheck, and the Breaking Up tactic to figure a way around. But let’s take a step back and break this down. Why does one beat another and why is there always 1 tactic that is the “perfect” countertactic to use? Here are are the 6 tactics, each with their countertactic and an explanation as to why I believe this is the case. We’ll start with the 2 we know.

Offensive: Defeated by Defense
This one is basic logic. If you want to shut down a highly offensive team, you play an equally good defensive game.

Normal: Defeated by Breaking Up
The normal tactic is thought of as the most balanced approach, neither offensive nor defensive. This style relies on an open game where a team can change tactics on the fly, play defense where needed and use momentum to its advantage. The key to shutting down a normal tactic is to stop the momentum, hense the Breaking Up tactic being the best option.

Breaking Up: Defeated by Counterattacks
As previously mentioned, the Breaking Up tactic uses starts and stops to break the momentum of a team. What you would want then, is a tactic that can use these attempted breaks in play to start an attack. Counterattack is that tactic. When the opposition tries to slow down the game by forcing an offside or freezing the puck, your team uses Counterattack to force penalties and turnovers, therefore giving you the puck to start an attack.

Counterattack: Defeated by Active Forecheck
This is possibly the tactic that people get most confused about. Well, this one and the next one. A team that uses counterattacks is never easy to beat because any error you make is often going to result in them getting the puck. You need to counter this with the opposite style of move. While they are waiting patiently for you to cause an error and give them the attack, you need to pressure them into doing the same. A good quality, solid forecheck is often enough to shut down any team looking for you to make an error. Take the game to them, and you should win.

Active Forecheck: Defeated by Offensive
We now know that a patient counterattack game is defeated by a puck pressured forecheck. But how do you beat a team that is putting the pressure on you? Playing a patient defensive game is going to play into their hands. Playing a hard forecheck game is counterproductive as that’s what they are doing to you. Instead, you need a tactic that is fast paced enough to keep up with them, but skilled enough to get around their defensively minded forechecking forwards. A solid offensive game is what you need.

Defensive: Defeated by Normal
Lastly we have the tactic that has won many teams championships over the years. The defensive tactic is a killer and that pesky neutral zone trap that helped the New Jersey Devils and Dallas Stars win games is a horrid beast to get around. At least, it is if you don’t play a solid all round game. If a team is playing defense most the game, you are going to want to play along with them, looking for gaps and finding their weaknesses. The Normal tactic, while the most balanced in the game (allegedly), is the best to use here.

This makes up the “Ring of Counter-Tactics”, as pictured here: Normal > Defensive > Offensive > Forechecking > Counterattacks > Breaking up > Normal

Note: There has data done to 99.99% prove these tactics are the best options. There are websites that have all the data, and no, before you ask I will not be sharing the link.

Next time you play a game, be sure to research your opponent and don’t be afraid to take some risks.

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MOVED: PPM Hockey Tactics: The Big Secret That Wasn’t

Please Note: This article has been moved to the PPM Hockey Guides section.

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Winning At PPM: Why Tactics & Strategy Are Vital

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” ~ Sun Tzu (Chinese General & Author, b.500BC)

I wonder how Sun Tzu would play Powerplay Manager if he were alive today. This quote above is dated around 2 and a half thousand years ago, but rings true to everybody playing PPM today. To win you need 3 things. A good solid strategy that you are able to work, tactics that you are able to understand and use, and the knowledge of how to use those 2 at the same time, so they work off each other.

When it comes to PPM tactics are one of the most misunderstood parts of the game, and those who do understand how they work tend to keep the information to themselves. There are people who claim there to be an almost brotherhood like secrecy about who knows what when it comes to that “T” word. The fact is, tactics can play such a huge role in your success that simply revealing the winning formulars publically would in many ways ruin the game. I do apologise if you’re one of those “not in the know”, but I will not be sharing the information publically in this article. That said, there are 2 big parts to tactics and counter-tactics: knowing which tactics are better than others and knowing how to best implement those tactics.

As it’s based on logic, I will share with you that the defensive tactic is the best one to beat the offensive tactic. Most people already assume this anyway, but there it is, a bit of secret brotherhood information for you all 🙂 So you know that if you analyse an upcoming game and see your opponent always plays offensive, you need to play defensive. This is the most basic type of game analysis. What happens however when your opponent changes tactics often and has no set patter to which tactics they play? If you take enough time to analyise your opponent, and that includes looking at their previous 2 or 3 games you might see that they change their tactic to match their opponent. Uh-Oh! All of a sudden you have an opponent who is doing EXACTLY what you’re doing. Obviously, he’s going to see you matching tactics and try and predict what tactic you’ll use, so he can counter it. You’ve not got a game of cat and mouse. What you now need to do is try and anticipate his move, and then counter the move you believe he will make. Sticking with offensive / defensive, lets say for example that you play defensive on a regular basis, and see that he plays offensive often, but line matches more than half the time. You have a choice, leave your current tactic set to defensive and hope he stays with offensive, or assume that he will counter your defensive tactic with the appropriate one, thus giving him the advantage again. If the latter, you can now try and predict which tactic he will use to counter your defensive, and then set a new tactic to counter the possible choice he makes.

Confused? What we’ve just talked about is pure tactic… it’s a great part of the game, but without a proper way to use this with your team, it is, as Sun Tzu called it, just noise. Don’t worry if you’re a little lost, it actually all makes sense once you fully immerse yourselve into PPM.

This brings us to strategy. Using tactics is great, but using tactics wisely is how you win, and that is where strategy comes into play. Some opponents are easy to read, and will be simple to counter-tactic, but others are not so much. If you’re not sure, sometimes you need to take a gamble, and there will be times when you’ll make the wrong choice, and lose. It’s at times like this that you need to ask yourself, why did you lose? Why did your opponent choose the tactics he did. Research is needed both before and after games to give you a better understanding of the way your opponents think. If you could go back and do-over the game, what would you change? Would you keep the same tactic and play on normal importance rather than low?

In fact, the very simple low/normal/high importance setting is an absolutely amazing strategy tool in itself. I believe playing low importance whereever possible is a great idea, and only play normal against teams you really want to beat, or believe you can do so by upping the importance lever. Some play normal at the start of the season to notch a few wins early on, while others believe holding off and using the higher importance settings later in the league. Maybe that opponent mentioned above who is countering your tactics is beatable if you play on normal, but not on low. Do you do it? The energy loss could be worth it if you notch up a win… right?

You’ll notice i ask a lot of questions in this article. That’s because at the end of the day my strategy is not yours, and yours is not the next persons. Everybody has their own preferred way of playing the game.

Before i sign off, I wanted to give you one little tip that can be a great help when choosing tactics early on in the season. As you know at the start of the season there is not enough data to pick a good counter-tactic strategy, so go to your opponents team page, click on their history and find out what league they were in last season. Now go to the league section and then the “results” area. Now, in the drop-down, change to the last round (38) of last season in the league that person played. Once there you can click on the game results link (score) of your opponents game from last season. Do this for the last 3-5 games of last season and see what tactics your opponent played. Chances are, if he played the same tactics every game, he will most probably continue to do that again this season.

Good luck with your strategy and tactics in season 4. As always, if you have any questions or comments don’t hesitate to contact me either here or on PPM (my username is trueblue55 over there).

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Pre-Defining Game Tactics

Did you know you can setup tactics in advance? If you were to ask most veteran PPM players they would tell you that having tactics pre-set is one of the best ways to manage your team.

The question then isn’t should we use tactics, but which ones do we set?

In your PPM members area under the “Game” menu you will find a sub-section called “Tactics” (link: http://hockey.powerplaymanager.com/en/tactics.html). This page is where you will setup and/or edit your pre-defined tactics. It should be said that i’m assuming you are a pro member here, and have full tactic features. If not, please read on anyway as this is truly a wonderful feature.

What you want to do is setup a few different tactics, so that you can quickly set your team up before each game. There is no right or wrong way to do this, however there are commonly suggested tactics that are considered “must-haves”. The top 3 that I strongly suggest you have are:

  • Defense with Low Importance. This tactic is one of the best you can use against a team that is stronger than you, and is especially good Vs a team who plays the offensive tactic. Low importance is optional, however to conserve energy loss, i always suggest playing low importance unless the game is a “must-win”.
  • Normal with Low Importance. This tactic is pretty much the same as above, however the normal tactic system is very good against the “Defensive” style of play. It’s also a great tactic to use as a fall-back, so if you’re unsure, normal is a pretty good all-round one to go with.
  • Breaking Up with Low Importance. This is my favorite tactic as it’s the very best one to use against teams that use the “normal” tactic option. As many new players and/or those who don’t change tactics use normal by default, this one can be a very popular one to go with.

Offensive, Counterattacks and Active Forecheck are also good options, however if in doubt, start with these top 3 first and then go from there. Reading the forums will reveal a LOT of information about which tactics to use the most.

Setting Up your Tactics

This is one of the hardest parts of the game. Choosing the tactic to use is not enough, as you also need to play around with a few other options.

3 or 4 lines?

If you are up against a tough opponent, think of playing just 3 lines by choosing “yes” underr the rotate 3 lines section. 3 lines will use more energy, but will allow you to play only your top 3 lines of players so have more chance to score and therefore win.

Changing the goalie and/or dropping the 4th line?

These 2 options are both good if your team is being lit up on he scoreboard. I always choose the option to change and reduce lines after both the 1st and 2nd periods, and generally have trailing by 2 (to 99) after 1st and trailing by 1 (to 99) after the 2nd period for both options. the leading by option an i have set to 99 to 99. The 99 means the option is not used.

Mimic your opposition?

If your opposition drops their 4th line, you can set your team to mimic them and do the same. Some believe saying “yes” to this ensures your team will play at their best, but it is purely optional.

Pulling the goalie?

This is always a difficult decision to make as it means your team is trailing with 2 minutes to go in the game, however if you find yourself in this position you can have your team pull the goalie in exchange for a 6th skater. It’s not always a good move, but worth a shot if you’re ballsy enough to take the risk.

As always, tactics are a personal preference thing and what one person believes to be a great idea may be a really stupid one to the next person. My suggestion is give different tactics a shot and see how your team works.

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MOVED: Pre-Defining Game Tactics

Please Note: This article has been moved to the PPM Hockey Guides section.

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